"Oppression tries to defend itself by its utility."

Monday, May 30, 2011

Our Common Mythology

In Linda Christensen's piece, "Unlearning the Myths That Bind Us," she conveys ideas about societal construction of the young minds through media. She considers this process to be "our society's culture industry" which effectively "colonizes their minds and teaches them how to act, live, and dream." The example from the article point to cartoons, children's books, and movies as the "most influential genre read".

Race, sexuality, gender, and their performances are constructed in each one of these pieces of media. Parents often do not realize how bad this is for their children because they grew up watching/reading the same sort of media. One of Christensen's students beautifully states, ""True death equals a generation living by rules and attitudes they never questioned and producing more children who do the same." Although the quote is dark, it reveals the real problem of this sort of hegemonic capitalistic media.

The easiest example of this sort of social hegemony is the Disney cartoons. Children watch the movies, read the books, wear the clothing, have birthday parties themed around the cartoons, and so on. Not only does the media tell young folks how to think about others and themselves, it also tells them what they want. This can only be countered by concerned parents, extended family, and educators.These three groups of people have a profound impact on children and limiting this sort of media is not lessening their childhood experience, rather it will only enrich their childhood. No one fits into the stereotypes that Disney presents and children should not inferior nor superior due to these falsehoods. But let's be honest, Disney isn't going anywhere so what do concerned people do?

Christensen's article prescribes some different approaches in countering the media targeted to young children and youth. One example is that she requests people focus on one particular cartoon. This way, they will be familiar with the content, are able to recognize the patterns, and are able to discuss the problems in the cartoons. Another example she gives is asking students to write about real world solutions that focus on the topic at hand. Such approaches make students teach others the knowledge they have gained and this is how you wake up one generation and prevent it from being passed on to the next.

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